What appears to be is that the Kashmir entanglement holding up the potential gains of SAARC. The animosity between India & Pakistan has spilled over in SAARC which has led to its factional politics at SAARC. Trade within SAARC is 2% of their member GDP while that for South Asia is 20%. The official trade between India & Pakistan is of $ 400 Million, while the unofficial trade is in the range of $ 2-2.2 billion. The potential of trade between two countries is $ 6.6 billion. The hate-factor between two nations has cost the citizens of both countries very dearly.
The root of animosity lies in the Kashmir problem. In last 50 yrs both the countries have tried to achieve political gains for themselves in the regional & international arena by leveraging Kashmir problem. Resolution of this problem can lead very outstanding results for whole of Indian subcontinent. But with the current arguments, neither of countries, without budging, from their stands can resolve this issue.
Many people have in fact suggested and tried various solutions for this issue. None of which has made considerable progress from the fact that common borders have always led to increase of tensions rather decreasing it. To diffuse the tension between two countries, we need to create insulation between two countries, which not only discharges the tension but also allows them to reap benefits by contributing to that insulation.
Though I believe, Pakistan has forcefully occupied some part of Indian state Jammu & Kashmir and also handed over part of Kashmir (Aksai Chin) to China, taking back of that will involve huge losses to both the sides. We may even risk a nuclear war, which will lead to total annihilation of Pakistan and make India vulnerable to even states like Bangladesh & Sri lanka.
My seven point agenda is as follows:
- Let the Pakistan and India have their own territories now under their control. Let that be converted to International boundaries.
- The Pak Occupied Kashmir (also known as PoK) be declared as separate state with its own jurisdiction & be called as Azad Kashmir hence forth.
- India & Pakistan, both will not interfere in the functioning of Azad Kashmir.
- Azad Kashmir to be developed on the lines of Switzerland, which has no army of its own, free of all international laws.
- It will be responsibility of India and Pakistan to protect Azad Kashmir from any external aggression.
- Both India & Pakistan will get Azad Kashmir UN membership.
- A tripartite memorandum needs to be signed stating that anybody violating constitution, integrity & freedom of Azad Kashmir will be prosecuted by both countries jointly.
- Let Azad Kashmir be tax haven and all the trade between India & Pakistan be carried out through Azad Kashmir only. That can be the source of income for Azad Kashmir.
There is a study group, which tries to look into the problems of Kashmir & possible solutions for it. More can be found about them at this website http://kashmirstudygroup.com/
The above idea is mere outline of my though process and can be more refined to suit the exact conditions there.